We analyzed the responses to first line treatment and clinical outcomes of metastatic breast cancer patients treated with palliative doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (AC) according to molecular cancer subtype.
A retrospective analysis was performed for 110 metastatic breast cancer patients selected on the basis of palliative AC treatment and the availability of immunohistochemical data for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2/neu) status.
Of the 110 patients analyzed, 71 (64.5%) were hormone receptor positive (HR+), 14 (12.7%) were HER2+, and 25 (22.7%) were triple negative (TN). There were no differences in age, stage at diagnosis, total number of cycles of palliative chemotherapy, incidence of visceral metastasis, and metastatic sites with the exception of liver among breast cancer subtypes. The overall response rates to AC were 55.9% for the HR+ subgroup, 42.9% for the HER2+ subgroup, and 56.5% for the TN subgroup. The progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with HER2+ and TN were significantly shorter than in the HR+ (median PFS, 9.1 vs 8.1 vs 11.5 months, respectively; p = 0.0002). The overall survival (OS) was 25.4 months in the TN subgroup and 27.3 months in HER2+ subgroup. The median OS for these two groups was significantly shorter than for patients in the HR+ subgroup (median, 38.5 months; 95% CI, 30.1-46.9 months; p < 0.0001).
The response to palliative AC chemotherapy did not differ among breast cancer subtypes. Despite chemosensitivity for palliative AC, the TN subtype has a shorter overall survival than non-TN subtypes. Innovative treatment strategies should be developed to slow the course of disease.